Nac docs tell athletic directors to evaluate concussions - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Nac docs tell athletic directors to evaluate concussions


Over 1.6 million sports related concussions happen each year in the United States. Nacogdoches High School player, Jacob Howard, had one last year. "At the moment when I walk it's like my vision is blurry. I just feel like I'm gonna black out," said Howard last year, shortly after the injury.

Now doctors and coaches have a proven evaluation of a player's recovery following a concussion. ImPACT takes all the guess work away.

"It's an awesome idea. It's just another tool in our tool box that we can make sure kids are playing safe," said Mike Waters, Lufkin Independent School District head athletic trainer.

ADs around Deep East Texas attended a luncheon hosted by Nacogdoches Medical Center about the importance of cognitive skill evaluations following a concussion.

The 20 minute online test is administered both in the pre-season for a base line and post- injury to track a concussion. Things like memory, brain function and recall are tested. It's used by the 32 NFL teams, more than 2000 highs schools, and more than 350 universities, including Stephen F. Austin State University.

Sandy Miller, SFA head athletic trainer, finds it useful in keeping players safe. He recalled one player who suffered a concussion. "He's fine physically, but just the mental part of the game wasn't there."

When performance on the evaluation doesn't line up, there's no question what's best for the player. "That if their (scores) are lower, then you just got to keep 'em out," said Dr. Michael Randle, a Nacogdoches neurologist who works closely with many sporting teams.

Sometimes it's a decision that doesn't lead to wins and scholarships. "You will have doctors that will go ahead and clear them because that's their family doctor," shared Christy Chavira, Nacogdoches head high school athletic trainer.

"The kid looks good, just looking at them. They're going to get cleared and then the coach is going to expect them to play."
Randle shared parents have begged him to sign the release papers. He knows the dangers.

So does Dr. Steve Dickhaut, an orthopedic surgeon, specializing in sports medicine. "The ImPACT program eliminates that and it's a very, very safe way of addressing it, a very serious issue which is concussions in sports and their long term ramifications," said Dickhaut.

NFL Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw is suffering from multiple concussions that happened years ago. "I felt as though my short-term memory had gone to pot and I couldn't understand what was going on," said Bradshaw.

High school players may not have the long term effects in sight, but certainly adults should.

"Health and safety of the kid is much more important than the win of the game," said Waters.

The online evaluation packages cost from $500 to $1,000. Baseline tests are about $2 dollars each. Post injury tests are $10.

Several districts intend to subscribe to the program by next fall. New UIL rules require schools to bench players for the rest of the day after a concussion. Further testing may show a day of rest is just not enough.

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